To keep tabs on every San Francisco restaurant and bar opening is folly. But to keep tabs on the most worthy? Yeoman’s work, and we’re proud to do it. Thus we present Table Stakes, a monthly rundown of the five (or so) must-know spots that have swung wide their doors in the past 30 (or so). Bon appétit.
To love food in the Bay Area is to be spoiled for choice.
We have the climate, the money, the audience, the innovators.
It simply doesn't get better than this.
The newst addition to "this": Ninebark, the latest stop on Matthew Lightner's tour of gustatory excellence.
He's an alum of Noma. Praised by every magazine worth the subscription. Michelin approved. So we're not surprised he chose Napa for his newest project, Ninebark.
We are, however, delighted.
Below, your newest reason to go Napa or bust — along with four other eateries well worth your time.
With the Chronicle wondering aloud if Gabriela Camara's Cala isn't perhaps the best Mexican restaurant in the U.S., there's no better time to sample the mothership's (literal) side venture: Tacos Cala, newly opened on Hickory Street. Grab and go or stay and stand — it's all super casual, and inspired by the tacos de guisado scene of Camara's native Mexico City. At $3.50 each, we'll take the pork chile verde with rajas poblanas, and wash with a lemon chia agua fresca.
If you like Sens — Paris-born Kais Bouzidi's FiDi homage to his Tunisian father's culinary heritage — you'll be equally pleased with the new Barcha. The happily pan-Mediterranean cuisine has found an attentive following down the street at Barcha — and its happy-hour crowd is just as well groomed as the one at its sister restaurant. Plan on salads and shawarma for lunch and platefuls of mezze in the evening, whether crushed California avocado, Turkish flatbreads, hummus or sautéed Gulf white prawns with white wine and garlic.
Ninebark chef Matthew Lightner is as well pedigreed as they come: he's a Noma grad and Food & Wine Best New Chef whose New York City restaurant, Atera, earned two Michelin stars and a spot on Bon App's Best 50 New Restaurants. Ninebark offers his skills a big canvas: three stories of market-driven cuisine, with a bar menu that comes courtesy of Andrew Salazar (ex-Bar Terra) and Eben Freeman (of AvroKO Hospitality Group.) Three levels, three different cocktail menus, with the most innovative space at the top. We'll start with the Old Ball Game, with popcorn and peanut-infused rye whiskey.
When the Fillmore Street institution of Squat & Gobble closed doors in August, we would have said that no other restaurant could take the place of the neighborhood creperie/prodigious purveyor of potatoes. But the hearts of men are fickle, and accordingly we're thrilled that former pop-up Iza now has a permanent home in the Pine Valley. In the galley: a tasteful mix of ramen and tsukemen. Fans of Blowfish Sushi
, meanwhile, can expect a new ramen pop-up in lieu of Iza: pork-centric Ramen JuBay is due to launch shortly.
Opening by mid-month, Volta provides a thorough upgrade on the Westfield Centre space formerly occupied by 'wichcraft. Umberto Gibin and Chef Staffan Terje, formerly of Perbacco in the Financial District, will eschew Italian vibes for a mash-up of French brasserie mores (and morels) and Terje's native Scandinavian — Swedish meatballs included.